Beijing is concerned that the new de facto government in Afghanistan might encourage Muslim separatists in the People’s Republic to rise up against their oppressors.
Many adversaries of the United States are jumping at the opportunity to the fill the void created by America’s hasty military withdrawal from Afghanistan. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is not one of them.
Although Beijing will no doubt try to take advantage of Afghanistan’s vast supply of mineral resources and celebrate America’s failure in the country, it will also have to contemplate its own security prospects as the Taliban projects terrorism and radicalism in the region.
Beijing is guilty of committing atrocious human-rights abuses, under the guise of counter-terrorism in its Xinjiang province, against the country’s Uyghur Muslims. The Taliban’s historic connections with a controversial Uyghur separatist group, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), worries China’s leadership, which considers this group a terrorist organization.
The Uyghurs are Turkic-speaking Muslims who are native to China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the country’s northwest. Beijing views this minority group as a threat to Han nationalism, and fears calls for Uyghur separatism.
As part of its effort promote supposed cultural unity, the PRC perpetuates modern-day slavery in Xinjiang by forcibly detaining Uyghurs in makeshift concentration camps. Chinese officials have been accused of committing crimes against humanity for the torture and abuse of this minority community. Uyghur women are systematically sexually abused, sterilized and indoctrinated. Uyghur men face similar fates in Xinjiang.
Chinese officials for years have cried terrorism when referring to the Uyghur population and claim that their detention, indoctrination and “re-education” efforts are aimed at limiting the terrorism threat posed by the minority group. Beijing points to the ETIM to back up the claim that Uyghur splinter groups, specifically in Xinjiang province, have and will continue to carry out crimes against ethnic Hans. However, the origins and even current existence of the ETIM are disputed.
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